Tecumseh’s Pelham brothers pin down regional titles
By MICKEY ALVARADO
A pair of brothers highlighted the Division 2 regional wrestling competition at Tecumseh High School on Saturday, Feb. 16, with Landon and Preston Pelham each pinning down championships for the hosting Indians.
Landon, a freshman, pinned Hamtramck’s Harun Bogdanic (3:26) for the 189-pound title while Preston, a junior, pinned Redford Union’s Carl Keeney in the 215-pound championship match.
In addition to Tecumseh’s brothers earning championships, the Maples’ family tree had Adrian siblings Joe (103) and Anthony Garcia (119) also earn regional titles.
Six of Tecumseh’s eight entrants earned the right to advance to the individual wrestling state finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills, March 1-2.
Tecumseh junior Ricky Azelton (103) and seniors Anthony Lesko (145), Cole Amstutz (160) and Joe Rebottaro (275) each placed second to qualify to advance for the state finals.
Tecumseh head wrestling coach Tony Greathouse was happy to have sent eight wrestlers to the regional meet, especially with such a young group of athletes on his varsity roster.
Despite being a first-year freshman on the team, Landon Pelham was impressive in his championship bout, recording a come-from-behind victory. Bogdanic scored two points on a takedown but gave back one on a restart in the first period. He added two more points with a second takedown in the same period but an escape gave him a 4-2 lead.
Soon after entering the second period, Pelham tied the match 4-4 with a near fall. With 34.8 second left in the period, Pelham turned Bogdanic to his back and secured the win by pin.
“Oh, that was sweet,” Pelham’s father, Pat, was overheard saying from the stands as he smacked his other son Preston in the rear on his way to the scorers table to check in for the following 215-pound match.
Screams of, “Be smart, Hammer,” came from Tecumseh’s fans as Preston extended his hand at the start of the bout. Preston wasted little time in gaining control of the match with a two-point takedown in the opening period.
Keeney gained a point on an escape early in the second period but Preston’s heavy hands and quick feet made up for it with two more points on a take down for a 4-1 advantage by the end of the first four minutes of action.
Preston started the third period on the bottom and after the two rolled out of bounds he took the bottom position a second time. Right after the whistle, Preston recorded a reversal for a 6-1 lead, and finished the match with a pin and 1:08 left on the clock.
Joe Garcia (103), a junior, beat Tecumseh’s Azelton by pin with just seconds remaining in the first period (1:56).
Adrian senior Anthony Garcia defeated Ameer Munassar by Tech fall (17-1).
The brothers were Adrian’s only wrestlers.
Neither of the Pelhams has been to the state meet as individuals.
Azelton advanced to the state finals last season but lost his first bout at 103-pounds, won his second match and was eliminated in his third match.
Lesko wrestled at 140-pounds last season at the state meet and lost his first two matches.
Amstutz did not advance to state last season.
Rebottaro placed eighth at state last year. He lost his first heavyweight bout but picked up two wins to follow to secure a spot on the podium.
"It is awesome to have six guys moving on to wrestle at the Palace, and all six of them will enter as No. 1 or No. 2 seeds so they all should have great shots at placing and earning All-State honors,” said Greathouse. “These guys have worked hard all season long and getting to wrestle at both Team and Individual States is what it is all about in high school wrestling, so it will be awesome to see how they go out and battle the state's best and see what they can do.”
The Indians’ team as a whole won its third consecutive Div. 2 regional championship on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Tecumseh defeated Dearborn Heights Annapolis 57-15 in the semifinals and squeezed past Trenton in the championship final with a tight 35-30 victory.
“It was closer than we would have liked,” said Greathouse of the Indians’ close win over Trenton. “We lost a couple of key matches we thought we should have won.”
The Indians will now advance to the state quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 22, in Battle Creek at Kellogg Arena.
Tecumseh has been paired with the No. 3 seed, Niles.
The winner of the match will advance to face the winner of the other bracket, No. 2 seed, Lowell or Greenville.